Saffron Pilaf

Here is a delicious recipe offering the rejuvenative qualities of saffron and almonds along with the digestibility of basmati rice.


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¾- 2 cups water
  • 1/3 tsp saffron threads
  • 3 Tbs ghee
  •  ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 1-2 tsps minced hot green chillies
  • 1 ½ Tbs minced ginger
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 small cassia or bay leaf
  • ½ cup chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1 medium firm ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add saffron and set aside at least10-15 minutes (the longer you soak saffron the better; overnight is great!)
  2. Heat ghee over moderate heat until hot. Add slivered almonds and stir-fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drop in chillies, ginger, cloves, cumin, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Fry until mustard seeds turn grey and pop.
  3. Add bell pepper, sauté 4-5 minutes. Stir in rice and fry 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add saffron water, tomato and salt. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer without stirring for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and fluffy.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
  6. Gently fold in the almonds or serve as a garnish for guests to add as they please.

Source: Adapted from Yamuna Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987).

Ayurvedic Recipes_Saffron Pilaf